Bulls New Practice Facility: free agent recruiting boost?

Bulls New Practice Facility: free agent recruiting boost?

Today, the Chicago Bulls held an official groundbreaking ceremony for the team’s brand new practice facility. The new Chicago Bulls practice home is being built in the United Center’s Parking Lot J; east of the arena across from South Wood Street. Hopefully, this new facility and its convenient location will be a boon to the Bulls' recruiting of high profile NBA free agents.

Chicago Bulls representatives and local community leaders were on hand for the historic event. The current Chicago Bulls practice facility, the 35,000-square-foot Berto Center, is located in upscale suburban Deerfield. They are selling the building, so if you have $5 million burning a whole in your pocket, it could be yours.

The new $25 million, 60,000-square-foot practice facility construction project is expected to be completed in time for the 2014-15 season. It will be a tremendous upgrade; offering state of the art amenities. (for artistic renderings of the building)

“The Bulls have been good neighbors for many years, and I know this new practice facility is going to be a great addition to our community,” said Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.  “The Bulls’ leadership has worked closely with us on this process, and I commend their efforts to further economic development on the West Side of Chicago.”

The Berto Center isn’t very far from downtown.

However, it can be quite the hike once you factor in awful traffic conditions; which are quite common.

Obviously, this will be more convenient. It’ll be similar to the Chicago Blackhawks set-up. The Hawks, who share the UC (thanks, Captain Obvious!) with the Bulls, have a practice facility right nearby in “Johnny’s Ice House.” The Berto Center is named after the late assistant of Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. This facility will put the naming rights up for sale; with expected revenue around $1 million per year. According to Forbes, the Bulls are worth $800 million as a franchise.

From Crain’s Danny Ecker:

Still to be determined, however, is whether Mr. Reinsdorf and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, who co-own the United Center, will build a $75 million to $85 million, 260,000-square-foot retail complex in the parking lot between the arena and the new practice building.

Plans for the complex reportedly include a number of restaurants, bars, a team store and event space.


Bulls players would rather live in Chicago than the suburbs, said Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf to DNA Info Chicago. 

“{The Berto Center is} lacking some of the start-of-the-art amenities that other teams have,” Reinsdorf said. “Investing in a new practice facility hopefully will help us to achieve our number one goal, which is to win championships,” he said.

Winning those championships means acquiring another superstar, or at least a couple more stars to accompany Derrick Rose.

Rose has been this franchise’s only superstar since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen left. And D. Rose was acquired via the NBA Draft. Since the MJ and Scottie era, the Bulls have not been able to close the deal on acquiring a big name star via free agency. Tracy McGrady (in his prime), Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire are just a few of the many big NBA names the Bulls were unable to sign. In the 2010 free agent “summer of love,” the Bulls cleared the decks, opened up the cap space only to end up with…Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. Those are not exactly first tier guys or household names.
So will this change?


I guess we’ll see in 2014-15 when the Bulls salary cap hit drops from $73 million to $57 million. Or 2015-16 when their committed total money drops down to $42 million.  The Bulls can’t make a real NBA free agent splash until two or three years from now. Coincidentally, the new building will be finished by then. I asked Chairman Reinsdorf about that today; jokingly I was told that perhaps Chicago Tribune Bulls beat guy K.C. Johnson could answer that for me.

Will it help attract new top level free agents? Certainly can’t hurt. It might not be the deciding factor, but it should help.

The firm, 360 Architecture, will serve as the lead project architect, and McHugh Construction has been named the General Contractor.

“The Chicago Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of great pride for our city, and I am proud to welcome the Bulls back home,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This new practice facility is a strong commitment to Chicago and a major step forward in the economic growth of the Near West Side neighborhood.”


Here’s some links from the ground-breaking ceremony

Pippen and Company at the Ground-breaking

Paxson, Burnett, Emanuel, Reinsdorf at the ground-breaking

Mayor Emanuel

For more artist renderings see my Instagram

And my Twitter stream for more photos from the event and artistic renderings of the facility


Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks), like him on Facebook

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